Periodic Re-Coinage as a Monetary Tax: Conditions for the Rise and Fall of the Bracteate Economy
Economic History Review, Vol. 69(4), pp. 1108-31, 2016
33 Pages Posted: 15 Jul 2020
Date Written: September 18, 2015
Archaeology and numismatics have long been familiar with the phenomenon of periodic re-coinage (renovatio monetae), which dominated monetary taxation in medieval Europe for almost 200 years. However, this form of monetary taxation is seldom, if ever, discussed in the literature of economics or economic history. No economic theory has ever been proposed to explain periodic re-coinage. The present study aims to make up for this absence. It examines the qualities that typically differentiate regions with periodic re-coinage from those with other monetary systems and analyzes how periodic re-coinage was monitored and enforced. The principal example of frequently renewed coins is uni-faced bracteates, which were often subject to annual or even biannual re-coinages. Although bracteates were not the cause of periodic re-coinage, their features facilitated frequent renewals. The study discusses the economic consequences of periodic re-coinage and links the breakdown of this monetary system with the end of bracteates’ role as the principal coin in the 14th century.
Keywords: Monetary taxation, periodic recoinage, medieval Europe, coinage, coinage policy, monetization
JEL Classification: E31, E42, E52, N13, N23, N43
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation